2023 has already given us series 15’s perfect line-up – a gem of a season with Jenny Eclair’s endless joy, Kiell Smith-Bynoe’s cheeky competitiveness, Mae Martin’s cool smarts, Frankie Boyle’s affable bemusement and Ivo Graham’s adorable self-loathing keeping us laughing all the way through to summer.
And there’s not long to wait now until series 16 arrives. The new run of 10 episodes is confirmed to start airing weekly on Channel 4 and Channel4.com from Thursday September 21 at 9pm. That means – interruptions notwithstanding – the series finale should arrive on Thursday November 23, which is traditionally when the next line-up is announced.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The series 16 Taskmaster line-up comes first and back in June, was confirmed as comprising Julian Clary, Lucy Beaumont, Sue Perkins, Susan Wokoma and Sam Campbell. See them all in this first series trailer:
Let’s have a quick refresher on where we’ve seen the series 16 contestants before:
A stalwart of British stand-up since the 1980s, Clary is the undisputed king of innuendo (as the clip above proves), whose comedy is clever, cutting and completely camp.
His lack of filter can raise eyebrows – he famously made a controversial (and very funny) joke about Conservative Chancellor Norman Lamont at the 1993 British Comedy Awards – so we can safely look forward to some outrageous and unforgettable one-liners during his Taskmaster appearances, and in recent years Clary has become a legendary pantomime performer so we shouldn’t be short on theatrical flair either.
Clary is also just a very naturally funny person – this interview with his close friend Lily Savage is a great example – so seeing that quick wit in action on Taskmaster will be a treat.
Although she’s known for her “ditzily naive” comedy persona, Lucy Beaumont is certainly not daft – her stand-up is full of deadpan one-liners about her hometown of Hull, and she also wrote Hullraisers, the sitcom about three hilarious, bawdy and chaotic working-class women living in the city, adapted from the Israeli show Little Mom.
Beaumont is married to comedian Jon Richardson – she earned a BAFTA nomination for her performance in their mockumentary Meet The Richardsons – and Richardson himself was a contestant back in series two, which means that for the first time we’ll be able to compare a husband and wife’s performance on the show.
Her comedy partner Mel Giedroyc was one of Taskmaster’s greatest contestants when she appeared in series four, so Perkins has a big act to follow. The good news is that she’s more than capable: she’s known for her smart wit (as evidenced in the clip above), so we’re predicting she’ll be a quick-thinker in the more dastardly tasks, and her track record of filthy innuendos while presenting Bake Off should give Julian Clary a run for his money.
Perkins might have been in the business for three decades, but she’s still able to surprise us – as proven when she was revealed as Dragon on The Masked Singer – so it will be interesting to see what other hidden talents she pulls out of the bag for Taskmaster.
Wokoma is a woman of many talents, putting in excellent performances in both comedy – including Year of the Rabbit and Toast of Tinseltown – and more serious roles in Enola Holmes, Crazyhead and Cheaters, as well being a writer on Sex Education, Romesh Ranganathan sitcom The Reluctant Landlord, and more.
Basically, she’s one to watch – just as likely to impress with smart, imaginative ideas as she is to tell an outrageous story like the clip above – and Taskmaster will give her a well-deserved new audience of fans.
Aussie comedian Sam Campbell joins Taskmaster’s rich tradition of introducing us to lesser-known comics, along with the likes of John Kearns and Mawaan Rizwan, but a quick look at his credentials make him very intriguing indeed.
You might have spotted him in comedies like Stath Lets Flats or Bloods, and last year he also won the main prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s Comedy Awards, earning praise for his originality, surrealism and unexpected jokes.
The clip above provides great examples of his high-energy, bizarre and unpredictable comedy, all of which give us very high hopes indeed for his Taskmaster performance.
Taskmaster returns to Channel 4 on Thursday September 21 at 9 p.m. – catch up on previous series on Channel4.com